Personal lesson in Black History

Published 10:07 am Saturday, March 6, 2010

I’m a week or so behind and that’s not totally unusual for me.

What follows is sort of Black History Month recap of my life in the newspaper trade. It’s my attempt to take a chance to look back at some of the black men in my life who made a substantial contribution to who I am.

The reason I’m writing it is because of my interview with the Rev. Dr. Hoyt Cooper during our recently completed Crossroads endeavor.

In the course of our discussion, we talked about our mutual dealing in Scotland Neck and it brought back some names that I remember very well, most of whom have passed away in recent years.

As I was thinking back through my career of more than 20 years in the newspaper industry, a lot of the names that I thought of were black males who had influenced me in a mighty way and I focused a lot on the ones who are no longer here.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the column written during February, but the history of African-Americans in this country shouldn’t be limited to one month anyway.

I’ll start with one of the first men I met in this business. His name was John D. Hall and he had just been elected to the Halifax County Board of Commissioners. John was personable, fun and one of the smartest men I ever met.

He had his eyes on a seat in the North Carolina General Assembly and maybe even a spot in the United States House of Representatives. He made it to the state house, serving with distinction until his untimely death.

John is someone I truly miss even to this day.

Another person in Scotland Neck that was special to me was John D. Allison. A member of the town board when I was working at the Commonwealth, Mr. Allison was one of the first people I met in town.

He was someone who worked hard for the people of the town and held his own in any discussion, but always did so with grace. John Allison was one of the true gentlemen of this world. There are few like him.

Jasper Bazemore is truly one of the best county commissioners I have ever known. He was a hard working man who wanted the best for the citizens of Bertie County.

While many get conservative as they get older, Jasper Bazemore was always a visionary and a man who knew how to make things happen. He was someone I admired very much.

The lasting legacy that he left should be forever remembered.

Howard J. Hunter Jr. was a sincere and wonderful man who I enjoyed working with very much. He never ducked an issue with us and stopped by the office regularly for varying reasons.

He did so much for the people of this region and was always a staunch supporter of the poor, the young and the elderly. He was a man who was never ashamed of where he was from or the people he represented. He was a man of the people.

Roy L. Bond Jr. was one of the finest football coaches I have ever met. He was a person of integrity and a man who took his responsibility as a leader of young men and women seriously.

It was fitting that the Bertie County Board of Education named the football stadium at Bertie High in his honor.

Lastly, I will always remember the compassion of John Pierce. He was an outstanding public servant who gave his all to the people of Hertford County.

His untimely death was so sad because he had so much energy and life and so much still to give.

These men have all made a special contribution to my life and they’re all people that I miss truly every day.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at or by telephone at 332-7211.